Project: A review of the regulatory framework around hydrogen refuelling

Reference: SRT 7/2/9

Last update: 03/09/2009 12:51:46


The main objectives are to:

. Understand the present framework of responsibilities associated with the planning, production, storage, transport, dispensing and use of conventional hydrocarbon fuels;
. Map this framework across the hydrogen infrastructure to establish where the DfT lies in this mapping; and,
. Provide advance notification of new legislative requirements to allow sufficient time for their development, preventing unnecessary delays in the approvals process.


The present regulatory framework and definition of roles and responsibilities regarding conventional hydrocarbon fuels is complex. Given present visions of the hydrogen infrastructure it would appear that the number of parties affected is likely to increase, as is the amount of legislation required to govern the process.

As well as affecting the DfT in terms of future transport issues/policies and the increased movement of dangerous goods, the introduction of hydrogen fuels will also have an impact on a number of other government departments and local authorities. These will either have their own regulations/policies concerning flammable chemicals such as hydrogen, or be influenced by central government and EU initiatives in the same way as the DfT. Given this complex situation and the proposal by the DTI for the formation of a Hydrogen Coordination Unit to forge effective links across government, industry, the UK regions and internationally, it is essential that the DfT's position and responsibilities are properly defined.

As well as the need to understand the social and economic factors around hydrogen use as a fuel, there are many technological challenges which must be overcome to develop and install a completely new infrastructure. This has resulted in an enormous financial outlay in recent years by governments and industry, with many research projects, feasibility studies and trials being undertaken.

The challenge for the DfT is to establish the current state-of-play regarding developments to identify timescales and areas of relevance and better understand the physical hazards presented by delivery, forecourt distribution and widespread use in vehicles

The programme of work will comprise of a review of the regulatory framework and identification of stake-holder government departments including land use planning issues for hydrogen production, storage and distribution sites.


Health and Safety Laboratory
Harpur Hill, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 9JN
01298 21 8722

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £34,584.00

Actual start date: 16 October 2006

Actual completion date: 28 November 2007

Summary of results

  1. In general, the current regulatory framework in the UK appears adequate for the safe operation of public hydrogen refuelling stations of a type similar to the existing petrol stations. However, there are gaps in the available codes, guidance and standards required to assess the hazards and risks arising from hydrogen refuelling stations, and for demonstrating compliance with the regulations. Notable concerns are accidental release of hydrogen, specification of separation distances applicable to hydrogen refuelling stations, material compatibility with hydrogen and approval procedures for hydrogen refuelling stations. The study found that all these areas are currently subject to extensive research and development.
    There are also a number of specific areas that require additional consideration. These include: home refuelling units, a licensing regime for hydrogen refuelling stations, the exemption of hydrogen refuelling stations from current Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH), land use planning regulations and issues related to bulk transport (at least 50 kg) of hydrogen through road and rail tunnels.